At the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, we see our highest purpose as inspiring human potential to help people and environments thrive. With this goal in mind, we developed our signature initiative, our Learning by Leading™ internship program, to immerse students in progressive environmental leadership experiences. Through collaboration and adaptive problem-solving, our interns tackle real-world issues related to pressing environmental challenges: climate change, food security, biodiversity and habitat loss, sustainable horticulture, waterway stewardship, environmental literacy and more.
"During this crisis, I'm especially honored to be a part of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, an organization full of resilient and caring individuals who strive to make our experience as student leaders the most engaging as possible. I'm excited to see what creative methods my fellow students and I employ to maintain our public engagement in environmental education to support UC Davis and the community."
- Eliana Bono, Learning by Leading intern, '21
Before the COVID-19 crisis, our Learning by Leading™ program boasted over 130 students who participated in one, or more, of 13 areas of environmental leadership. When the announcement came that spring quarter classes were to be held online our leadership team and team of staff mentors decided to quickly pivot the internship experience to projects which could to involve our highly engaged students virtually.
“The first question we had to answer was, ‘Would they even want to participate,’ said Melissa Cruz, outreach and leadership program manager.
“Despite many of their projects moving from leading projects in the physical environment to leading projects in the digital world, the answer came back a resounding yes.”
Of the 130 that were participating, over 110 have enthusiastically agreed to continue their environmental efforts virtually.
To support our community during the crisis, they are focusing on sharing the health benefits of nature through virtual engagement with our larger community, including other students, volunteers, members, and the public. Their key message: Everyone can lean into nature as a source of hope, comfort, healing and wellbeing during these stressful times.
“We are thrilled at the participation, resiliency and adaptability of our students and excited to share the results of what this new focus will mean for our larger community,” said Kathleen Socolofsky, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Arboretum and Public Garden.
The projects these students are planning to bring to the community include livestreaming health and wellness activities from watercoloring to storytelling, producing instructional videos, virtual tours, podcasts and more!
"Once they started brainstorming about our needs as an organization and combined those with content requests from the public, the potential was nothing short of tremendous," said Cruz.